Venezuelans supporting the socialist government took to the streets Tuesday to demand peace, as President Nicolas Maduro rejected new calls for violence by the right-wing opposition and detailed the process of electing representatives to the upcoming national Constituent Assembly aimed at easing high-running political tensions in the South American country.
Addressing a large crowd in Caracas, Maduro declared that the Constituent Assembly, a process to rewrite the country's Constitution, "is born today" and will include representation for workers, campesinos and fisherfolk, students, people with disabilities, Indigenous people, retirees, the business sector and communes, as well as 364 members representing municipalities among the 540 representatives.
"The constituents will be selected in the territorial and sectorial spheres with a universal and secret vote," the president said.
"Every municipality will have a constituent, no matter how large or small," he explained, reading out a list of the number of local representatives in each state. "Democracy, democracy and more democracy! A municipalized Constituent Assembly ... More democracy (than this), impossible!"
The president also detailed the criteria for candidates hoping to become a representative in the Constituent Assembly, including being a Venezuelan citizen, over 18 years of age and registered with the National Electoral Council.
The decree Maduro read was set to be delivered to electoral authorities after the address.
"We want peace! Constituent Assembly, now!" Maduro shouted, sparking a chant among the crowds as he wrapped up his address. "Until victory, forever. Long live peace, long live the Constituent Assembly!"
The new details of the Constituent Assembly came after Maduro called on Sunday for a "Great March for Peace, Life and Coexistence" in Caracas after a new wave of anti-government marches that have burned public buses, attacked public and private property and led to the deaths of at least 60 people since opposition marches aimed at forcing the government out of office began in early April, according to authorities.
"We must overcome hatred and intolerance and that respect triumphs among Venezuelans," Maduro said during his televised program.
He asked all Venezuelans to carry a Venezuelan flag on their hands and wear clothes with the colors of the flag.
"I massively call on the whole people of Venezuela to a great march of love, the great march of peace, next Tuesday, May 23," Maduro said.
Several government officials have accused leaders of the opposition coalition the Democratic Unity Roundtable, known as the MUD, of "acts of terrorism" to trigger a coup in the country and justify an international intervention.
"We do not have an opposition, we have counterrevolutionary forces, we are facing a terrorist opposition," Vice President Tareck El Aissami said on Monday.